Tag Archives: Bible

Presidential Prayer Team; C.P. – People Presents

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November. Christmas plans begin. Visions of bicycles, electronic gizmos and longed-for jeans may be dancing in your head as you think about those perfect gifts you will purchase for friends and family.

I thank my God through Jesus Christ for all of you, because your faith is proclaimed in all the world.

Romans 1:8

Ah, but first comes Thanksgiving. You put a lot of thought into Christmas gifts for people you care about…but do you realize the people in your life are God’s gift to you? In today’s verse, Paul thanks God for the Christians in Rome and for their world-renowned faith. He prayed that he would be able to visit them so they’d mutually encourage each other.

As thanksgiving approaches, think about all the people the Lord has put into your life – and pray for wisdom to be a blessing to them in some way. Remember to be grateful for your friends and family, your pastor and fellow church members, as well as associates in support groups and professional organizations, and all the people who serve you daily. Finally, thank God for the people who serve your country…whether in leadership, in the armed forces or at menial government jobs. Pray they will get to know God’s greatest “people gift,” Jesus.

Recommended Reading: John 3:16-21

Greg Laurie – Just in Time

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The temptations in your life are no different from what others experience. And God is faithful. He will not allow the temptation to be more than you can stand. When you are tempted, he will show you a way out so that you can endure. —1 Corinthians 10:13

In her book, The Hiding Place, Nazi concentration camp survivor Corrie ten Boom recalls the story of how, as a young girl, she struggled with the prospect of having loved ones die.

Her father wisely took her aside and asked, “Corrie, when you and I go to Amsterdam—when do I give you your ticket?”

“Why, just before we get on the train.”

“Exactly,” her father said. “And our wise Father knows when we’re going to need things, too. Don’t run ahead of Him, Corrie. When the time comes that some of us will have to die, you will look into your heart and find the strength you need—just in time.”

Sometimes we wonder, What if I am tested above my ability to endure? What if I am tempted above my capacity to resist? You never will be because God knows your breaking point. As far as temptation goes, 1 Corinthians 10:13 tells us, “God is faithful. He will not allow the temptation to be more than you can stand. When you are tempted, he will show you a way out so that you can endure.” There is always a way out. Sometimes it is as simple as the door.

But what if God sends me a trial that I can’t get through? Often I talk to people who are going through very difficult suffering, and I ask myself, Would I have the attitude they have if I were going through that? Here is my response: If God would ask me to do it, then He would give me the strength to do it.

God will give you the strength to face what you have to face. You will have what you need when you need it. So don’t worry about it. Just trust God. He is in control.

 

Max Lucado – Simply “Church”

Max Lucado

The church names we banter about?  They don’t exist in heaven.  Because it’s not the denomination that saves you.  And I wonder, if there’re no denominations in heaven, why do we have denominations on earth?

I know this is a crazy thought—but what would happen if all the churches agreed, on a given day, to change their names simply to “church?”  And then when people chose which church to attend, they wouldn’t do so by the sign outside, they’d do so by the hearts of the people inside.

And then, when people were asked what church they attended, their answer wouldn’t be a label but just a location. And then, we Christians wouldn’t be known for what divides us; instead we’d be known for what unites us—our common Father.

Crazy idea?  Perhaps.   But I think God would like it.  It was His idea to begin with!

from Lucado Inspirational Reader

Charles Stanley – Wise Decision Making

Charles Stanley

Some choices should be based solely on Scripture. We don’t need to pray about whether or not to commit adultery, steal from our employer, or avoid paying the taxes we owe. For each of these, God has clearly laid out instructions for us in His Word. But on areas where Scripture is silent, the Holy Spirit desires to guide our steps along the specific path the Father has chosen for us.

For instance, whom should you marry? Which career should you pursue? What home should you buy? True, the Bible gives a few guidelines on these topics. It tells us to marry only fellow believers, to steer clear of jobs that require unethical behavior, and to avoid overspending. But we also need specific guidance from God in these areas.

The Prompting of the Holy Spirit

After we have received Jesus as our Savior, the His Spirit dwells within us to direct our steps—the choices and decisions we should make, the work we should undertake, and the new attitudes and opinions we should adopt. Jesus said that one of the primary roles of the Holy Spirit is to guide us into all truth (John 16:13).

When God wants to clarify the next move He has for us or lead us in a new direction, He often uses what I call a “prompting.” This is like a flash of lightning in a person’s spirit that creates an almost immediate knowing of which way to turn, what to do, or how to respond. It comes with a deep assurance and confidence that the choice or decision is right.

Whenever we sense the Holy Spirit’s prompting, our all-wise God is communicating that He loves us enough to direct our steps in a particular situation. Much of what the Spirit directs us to do involves a potential loss or gain of something we deem important—either for ourselves or for others.

There are things we should avoid, discard, ignore, or put away. There are things we should reach out and receive, pay attention to, or act upon. On occasion, the Spirit also prompts us not to act or speak. At times I have clearly felt the Holy Spirit instructing me, “Sit down and don’t say a word.” Because His guidance differs moment by moment and person to person, it’s vital for each believer to look to Him for guidance.

How do you develop sensitivity to God’s leadership? Ask Him to increase your ability to discern His will in each situation. It’s His work, not yours, to impart sensitivity. When you experience His prompting, act on it immediately. Don’t second-guess what God tells you to do. Those who fail to act on the Holy Spirit’s gentle nudges never learn how to follow His leading.

If you have heard correctly, you will feel a growing peace and confidence regarding your choice. If you have heard incorrectly, you will feel unrest in your spirit. As with most things in life, we learn by trial and error.

An Example of God’s Prompting

I knew a young woman who was facing a decision about which college to attend. She had narrowed the choices to four Christian schools. When she visited the first two, she sensed a clear “no” from the Holy Spirit. After just a few hours on each campus, she felt ill at ease. Although these were good schools with excellent reputations, she knew in her spirit that they were not right for her. It wasn’t anything a specific person did or said; she just felt restless in her heart.

The last two colleges, however, seemed almost equal. She finally decided to attend the college that was closer to her home. Right before bed one night, she announced her choice to her family. She later recounted what happened: “I was awake most of the night. I tossed and turned and felt miserable. I had a nagging sense that I was making a mistake.”

The next morning, the young woman confessed to her mother, “I think I made the wrong choice. I’m changing my decision.” She felt peace all day long, and by evening, she knew she had made the right choice. After one semester at the college, she wrote a letter to her parents, saying how happy she was at the school and expressing gratitude that instead of deciding for her, they had encouraged her to seek God’s direction.

This young woman had experienced a series of promptings that led her to the final decision, which was God’s best for her. Now let me ask you: Do you believe this young woman has a much clearer understanding about how the Holy Spirit speaks in the human heart and prompts a person to move into right actions or decisions? Absolutely. She has learned a tremendous lesson about what it means to hear from God and to walk wisely.

If you are a believer in Christ Jesus, the Holy Spirit lives inside you to provide step-by-step guidance into God’s personalized plan for your life. Will you sometimes misunderstand His guidance? Yes. But if you seek daily to obey God’s still, small voice, you will experience His very best.

Adapted from “Walking Wisely: Real Guidance for Life’s Journey” (2002).

 

 

 

Alistair Begg – He Loves to Hear

Alistair Begg

Behold, he is praying.

Acts 9:11

Prayers are instantly noticed in heaven. The moment Saul began to pray, the Lord heard him. Here is comfort for the distressed but praying soul. When our hearts are broken and we bow in prayer, we are often only able to employ the language of sighs and tears; still our groaning has made all the harps of heaven thrill with music.

That tear has been caught by God and treasured in the receptacle of heaven. “Put my tears in your bottle”1 implies that they are caught as they flow. The petitioner, whose fears prevent his words, will be well understood by the Most High. He may only look up with misty eye; but “prayer is the falling of a tear.”

Tears are the diamonds of heaven; sighs are a part of the music of Jehovah’s court and are numbered with “the sublimest strains that reach the majesty on high.” Do not think that your prayer, however weak or trembling, will be unregarded.

Jacob’s ladder is lofty, but our prayers shall lean upon the Angel of the covenant and so climb its starry rounds.

Our God not only hears prayer but also loves to hear it.

He does not forget the cry of the humble. True, He does not regard high looks and lofty words; He does not care for the pomp and pageantry of kings; He does not listen to the drums of war; He does not regard the triumph and pride of man.

But wherever there is a heart enlarged with sorrow or a lip quivering with agony or a deep groan or a penitential sigh, the heart of Jehovah is open.

He marks it down in the registry of His memory; He puts our prayers, like rose leaves, between the pages of His book of remembrance, and when at last the volume is opened, there will be a precious fragrance springing from it.

Faith asks no signal from the skies,

To show that prayers accepted rise.

Our Priest is in His holy place,

And answers from the throne of grace.

1 Psalm 56:8

Charles Spurgeon – The God of peace

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“Now the God of peace be with you all. Amen.” Romans 15:33

Suggested Further Reading: Philippians 4:1-9

Let me briefly show you the appropriateness of this prayer. We indeed ought to have peace amongst ourselves. Joseph said to his brethren when they were going home to his father’s house, “See that ye fall not out by the way.” There was something extremely beautiful in that exhortation. You have all one father, you are of one family. Let men of two nations disagree; but you are of the seed of Israel; you are of one tribe and nation; your home is in one heaven. “See that ye fall not out by the way.” The way is rough; there are enemies to stop you. See that if you fall out when you get home, you do not fall out by the way. Keep together; stand by one another, defend each other’s character; manifest continual affection. The world hates you because you are not of the world. Oh! You must take care that you love one another. You are all going to the same house. You may disagree here, and not speak to one another, and be almost ashamed to sit at the same table, even at the sacrament; but you will all have to sit together in heaven. Therefore do not fall out by the way. Consider, again, the great mercies you have all shared together. You are all pardoned, you are all accepted, elected, justified, sanctified, and adopted. See that you fall not out when you have so many mercies. Joseph has filled your sacks, but if he has put some extra thing into Benjamin’s sack, do not quarrel with Benjamin about that, but rather rejoice because your sacks are full. You have all got enough, you are all secure, you have all been dismissed with a blessing.

For meditation: The God of love and peace will be seen to be present when his people live in peace with one another (2 Corinthians 13:11)

Sermon no. 49

3 November (Preached 4 November 1855)

 

 

 

John MacArthur – Having a Faith That Responds

John MacArthur

“Faith is . . . the conviction of things not seen” (Heb. 11:1).

When the writer said, “Faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen”, he used two parallel and almost identical phrases to define faith.

We’ve seen that faith is the assurance that all God’s promises will come to pass in His time. “The conviction of things not seen” takes the same truth a step further by implying a response to what we believe and are assured of.

James addressed the issue this way: “Someone may well say, ‘You have faith, and I have works; show me your faith without the works, and I will show you my faith by my works.’. . . But are you willing to recognize . . . that faith without works is useless? . . . For just as the body without the spirit is dead, so also faith without works is dead” (James 2:18, 26). In other words, a non-responsive faith is no faith at all.

Noah had a responsive faith. He had never seen rain because rain didn’t exist prior to the Flood. Perhaps he knew nothing about building a ship. Still, he followed God’s instructions and endured 120 years of hard work and ridicule because he believed God was telling the truth. His work was a testimony to that belief.

Moses considered “the reproach of Christ [Messiah] greater riches than the treasures of Egypt; for he was looking to the reward” (Heb. 11:26). Messiah wouldn’t come to earth for another 1,400 years, but Moses forsook the wealth and benefits of Egypt to pursue the messianic hope.

Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, when faced with a life- threatening choice, chose to act on their faith in God, whom they couldn’t see, rather than bow to Nebuchadnezzar, whom they could see all too well (Dan. 3). Even if it meant physical death, they wouldn’t compromise their beliefs.

I pray that the choices you make today will show you are a person of strong faith and convictions.

Suggestions for Prayer:

Ask God to increase and strengthen your faith through the events of this day.

Look for specific opportunities to trust Him more fully.

For Further Study:

Read Daniel 3:1-20. How was the faith of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego tested?

 

 

Joyce Meyer – Seek to Be Humble

Joyce meyer

Do nothing from factional motives [through contentiousness, strife, selfishness, or for unworthy ends] or prompted by conceit and empty arrogance. Instead, in the true spirit of humility (lowliness of mind) let each regard the others as better than and superior to himself.

—Philippians 2:3

Having pure motives and humility are required if you are to fulfill the command to think more highly of others than yourself. In fact it cannot happen without a willingness to be obedient to the Holy Spirit.

To live in harmony you must recognize and respect the right of others to disagree with you, and you must do so with a good attitude. Humility requires that you forgive quickly and frequently…and that you not be easily offended. You cannot be self seeking, but instead you must be generous in mercy and patience.

Humble yourself and follow God’s instructions and you will enjoy the wonderful benefits of obedience: peace, joy, and a powerful, victorious life.

 

Campus Crusade for Christ; Bill Bright – He Welcomes You

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“Come unto Me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you, and learn of Me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For My yoke is easy, and My burden is light” (Matthew 11:28-30, KJV).

Several years ago I had the privilege of meeting with a world-famous theologian. This great scholar had denied the deity of Christ and had taught thousands of seminarians who had studied under him that Jesus was only a great man and a great teacher. He was not God incarnate, and surely could not forgive sin and provide rest to His followers. Yet, in a unique way God had created a hunger in his heart for truth and for two years he had done an in-depth study of the life of Jesus.

As we met together in his office, he asked, “What do you tell a student when he asks you how to become a Christian?”

When I realized he was sincere, I proceeded to explain why I believe Jesus Christ is the Son of God and why all men everywhere need Him as their Savior and Lord, and how anyone who wants to can receive Him.

“I am persuaded,” he said after a long while, “that no honest person who is willing to consider the overwhelming evidence for the deity of Christ can deny that He is the Son of God.”

This great scholar, who had denied the deity of Christ all his life and encouraged millions of others to think likewise, bowed in prayer and received Christ into his life as Savior and Lord.

Jesus Christ stands out clearly as the one supernaturally unique figure in all of history. He is incomparable. He invites all who will to experience His love and forgiveness. “Come unto Me.” He welcomes “all you that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest…My yoke is easy and My burden is light.”

Bible Reading: Matthew 11:23-27

TODAY’S ACTION POINT: Through the enabling of the Holy Spirit, I will seek to make sure that every loved one, every friend, every contact I make today is fully aware of the fact that God loves him, that Jesus Christ died for him and will welcome him into His family through a simple act of faith. I will tell him that He offers peace and rest – from life’s burdens – to all who follow Him in faith and obedience

 

Presidential Prayer Team; J.K. – Eternal Freedom

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Well, it’s over! The World Series has been played and there was a winner. Some players received the glory. But in a very short time, they and their team will be forgotten.

Give thanks to the Lord…proclaim that his name is exalted.

Isaiah 12:4

It should not be that way for the God of your salvation! In what could be characterized as a psalm, Isaiah proclaims that the Lord should be praised and His name should be exalted. From the time of the Exodus of Israel from Egypt to the celebration of Passover each year, God’s chosen people give thanks and praise to their deliverer.

That should be your song as well, believer. You are delivered – redeemed and saved from the fate of sin! When you realize the joy of reconciliation to the One against whom you have sinned, sing your praises to God and speak of it to those around you. As they come to faith, they can make this song their own, knowing the reality of His saving grace.

Intercede for America…that many will come to faith and understand their deliverance. May they give thanks to God for the freedoms He has given – in this great country and for eternity. The praises should never die; the glory is always the Lord’s.

Recommended Reading: II Corinthians 3:12-4:6

Our Daily Bread — Who’s Telling The Truth?

Our Daily Bread

John 8:31-47

Which of you convicts Me of sin? And if I tell the truth, why do you not believe Me? —John 8:46

During the 2012 US presidential campaign, television coverage of speeches and debates often included “fact checking” by analysts who compared the candidates’ statements with their actual records. Were they telling the truth or manipulating the facts to their advantage?

The apostle John recorded a debate between Jesus and a group of people who believed He was making false claims about Himself. Jesus told them, “If you abide in My word, you are My disciples indeed. And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free” (John 8:31-32). They told Him that they had never been in bondage to anyone and asked, “How can You say, ‘You will be made free’?” (v.33).

As the debate continued, Jesus kept saying that He was telling them the truth (vv.34,40,45-46,51). Some believed Him, but others remained angry at Him and unconvinced.

In a sense, that debate goes on today. Those who oppose Jesus seek to discredit His statements and twist them into lies. Jesus says, “I am telling you the truth,” and promises that He will give us a freedom we can find nowhere else.

The Bible record of Jesus’ life is worth “fact checking” as we determine who we will follow. All of us have a choice to make. —David McCasland

Faith is believing, the promise is true,

Trusting in Jesus your strength to renew;

Resting so sweetly, secure on His Word,

Shielded from danger with Jesus the Lord. —Teasley

God’s truth stands any test.

Bible in a year: Jeremiah 27-29; Titus 3

Alistair Begg – Unaffected by Change

Alistair Begg

For I the Lord do not change.

Malachi 3:6

It is just as well for us that in all the variableness of life there is One whom change cannot affect, One whose heart can never alter, and on whose brow inconsistency can make no furrows.

All other things have changed-all things are changing. The sun grows dim with age; the world is growing old; the final chapter of the worn-out vesture has begun; the heavens and earth must soon pass away; they will perish-they shall grow old like a garment. But there is One who only has immortality, of whose years there is no end, and in whose person there is no change.

The delight that the sailor feels when, having been tossed about on the waves, he steps again upon the solid shore is the satisfaction of a Christian when, in all the changes of this distressing life, he rests the foot of his faith upon this truth-“I the LORD do not change.”

The stability that the anchor gives the ship when it has at last obtained a solid hold is like that which the Christian’s hope provides him when it fixes itself upon this glorious truth. With God “there is no variation or shadow due to change.”1

Whatever His attributes were in the past, they are now; His power, His wisdom, His justice, His truth are unchanged. He has forever been the refuge of His people, their stronghold in the day of trouble, and He is still their sure Helper.

He is unchanged in His love. He has loved His people with “an everlasting love”;2 He loves them now as much as ever He did, and when the creation itself is set free from its bondage to decay, His love will still endure.

Precious is the assurance that He does not change! The wheel of providence revolves, but its axle is eternal love.

Death and change are busy ever,

Man decays, and ages move;

But His mercy waneth never;

God is wisdom, God is love.

1 James 1:17 2 Jeremiah 31:3

 

 

Charles Spurgeon – The exaltation of Christ

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“Wherefore God also hath highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name: That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth; And that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” Philippians 2:9-11

Suggested Further Reading: John 17:1-5

Look at him! Can your imagination picture him? Behold his transcendent glory! The majesty of kings is swallowed up; the pomp of empires dissolves like the white mist of the morning before the sun; the brightness of assembled armies is eclipsed. He in himself is brighter than the sun, more terrible than armies with banners. See him! See him! Oh! Hide your heads, you monarchs; put away your gaudy pageantry, you lords of this poor narrow earth! His kingdom knows no bounds; without a limit his vast empire stretches out itself. Above him all is his; beneath him many a step are angels, and they are his; and they cast their crowns before his feet. With them stand his elect and ransomed, and their crowns too are his. And here upon this lower earth stand his saints, and they are his, and they adore him; and under the earth, among the infernals, where devils growl their malice, even there is trembling and adoration; and where lost spirits, with wailing and gnashing of teeth for ever lament their being, even there, there is the acknowledgement of his Godhead, even though the confession helps to make the fire of their torments. In heaven, in earth, in hell, all knees bend before him, and every tongue confesses that he is God. If not now, yet in the time that is to come this shall be carried out, that every creature of God’s making shall acknowledge his Son to be “God over all, blessed for ever. Amen.” Oh! My soul anticipates that blessed day, when this whole earth shall bend its knee before its God willingly! I do believe there is a happy era coming, when there shall not be one knee unbent before my Lord and Master.

For meditation: For meditation: Those who refuse to acknowledge the Lord Jesus Christ in this life (2 John 7) will be forced to acknowledge him in the next—but it will be too late to do them any good. Those who trust in him now will enjoy praising him for ever.

Sermon no. 101

2 November (1856)

John MacArthur – The Hope That Assures

John MacArthur

“Faith is the assurance of things hoped for” (Heb. 11:1).

Faith is the solid ground on which we stand as we await the fulfillment of God’s promises.

An elderly man who, on his seventy-fifth birthday, received an invitation to fly over the little West Virginia town in which he had spent his entire life. Although he had never before flown, the man accepted the gracious offer.

After circling the town for about twenty minutes, the pilot safely returned his passenger to the ground. The man’s grandson greeted him excitedly, asking, “Were you scared, Grandpa?” “No,” he replied sheepishly, “but I never did put my full weight down.”

Unlike that hesitant grandfather, true faith trusts fully in its object. For the Christian, that means resting in God and His promises. That’s the primary characteristic of each faithful individual listed in Hebrews 11. They all believed God and responded accordingly.

People often confuse faith with a wistful longing that something, however unlikely, will come to pass in the future. But “assurance” in Hebrews 11:1 speaks of essence and reality– the real thing, as opposed to mere appearance. Faith, then, involves absolute certainty.

For example, the Old Testament saints had the promise of a coming Messiah who would take away sin. They believed God, even though their understanding of Messiah was incomplete and somewhat vague. They knew their hopes would be fulfilled, and that assurance dominated their lives.

It’s the same for New Testament believers. Peter said, “Though you have not seen [Christ], you love Him, and though you do not see Him now, but believe in Him, you greatly rejoice with joy inexpressible and full of glory, obtaining as the outcome of your faith the salvation of your souls” (1 Pet. 1:8-9).

Man’s natural tendency is to trust only in the things he can see, hear, touch, or taste. But our physical senses may lie, whereas God cannot (Titus 1:2). Far better to believe God and trust in His promises.

Suggestions for Prayer:

Which promises of God are especially meaningful to you today? Thank Him for them and reaffirm your commitment to living on the basis of His Word.

For Further Study:

Skim Hebrews 11 and note all the divine promises you find there. To gain a fuller understanding of each one, find other Scripture references that mention the same promises.

 

 

Joyce Meyer – Enjoy Your Whole Day

Joyce meyer

I WILL praise You, O Lord, with my whole heart; I will show forth (recount and tell aloud) all Your marvelous works and wonderful deeds! —Psalm 9:1

Some Christians feel guilty when they are doing something that isn’t “spiritual.” Somehow or another, they feel the need to hurry through the grocery store, dash through the house cleaning, and rush through all the daily aspects of life that seem irrelevant to their faith. They want to get back to doing something “spiritual” so God will be pleased with them again.

God did not intend for you to hate the secular side of life. You can enjoy holiness and time with God even when you are doing daily chores, running errands, or taking the children somewhere they need to go. Don’t begrudge the routine things of life; see every activity as an opportunity to serve God with your whole heart.

Presidential Prayer Team; J.R. – Mystery Man

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Even to this day, no one really knows why he did it, although millions annually visit the complex of museums bearing his name. When Englishman James Smithson died in 1829, his will provided for his estate of about $500,000 to be gifted to “the United States of America, to found at Washington, under the name of the Smithsonian Institution, an Establishment for the increase and diffusion of knowledge.” Smithson was an obscure scientist known by few. You may not know much about Smithson, but you certainly know of his deeds.

Give thanks to the Lord; call upon his name; make known his deeds among the peoples!

I Chronicles 16:8

If the Lord is your Savior, his works and wonders are obvious to you. Yet most of the world knows no more about Jesus than they do about James Smithson. In this month of thanksgiving, how will you “make known his deeds among the peoples?”

Today, pray that your life might be used to draw others to the gift of eternal life offered by God. James Smithson, the mystery man, impacted generations of Americans with his thoughtful generosity. As you follow God’s perfect will for your life, your spiritual legacy shall be even greater!

Recommended Reading: I Timothy 4:4-10

 

Charles Stanley – What Keeps Grace from Flowing?

Charles Stanley

James 4:1-6

We know from the Bible that God continually showers His children with blessings. However, most believers don’t always feel as though He’s pouring His favor upon them. What could be blocking the free flow of divine grace?

Proverbs 6:16-19 provides a list of seven things that God hates. Certain attitudes and behaviors are categorized as detestable to Him, and the first thing mentioned is pride.

Nothing will interfere with spiritual growth as much as a proud spirit. That is why God considers it an abomination. Pride misaligns priorities in such a way that we—and not the Lord—become our own priority.

We can find many examples of pride throughout Scripture. For instance, the serpent convinced the first woman that if she ate of the forbidden fruit, she would “be like God” (Gen. 3:5). That sounded good to Eve, who apparently thought she deserved this high honor. So she and Adam ate the fruit, thereby bringing all manner of destruction and pain into the world.

If you have been struggling to feel God’s hand of blessing in your life, a wise first step is to humbly pray and ask the Lord to reveal any hidden areas of pride in your life. His arms are full of blessings that He desires to give you. As the preacher D. L. Moody once observed, “God sends no one away empty except those who are full of themselves.” Will you choose instead to be full of God? You can start by laying your pride at the foot of the cross. Then your life can overflow with blessings.

Our Daily Bread — Loved To Love

Our Daily Bread

Deuteronomy 10:12-22

What does the LORD your God require of you, but . . . to walk in all His ways and to love Him. —Deuteronomy 10:12

“A heart is not judged by how much you love, but by how much you are loved by others.” I saw this quotation, attributed to the Wizard of Oz, on a wall plaque in a gift shop.

The Wizard of Oz may be a good story, but it’s not a reliable source of spiritual information. God said something quite different. According to Him, the greatest commandment is to love—to love Him first and then others (Mark 12:29-31). Scripture says nothing about expecting to be loved in return. In fact, Jesus stated the opposite in His most famous sermon: “Blessed are you when they revile and persecute you, and say all kinds of evil against you falsely for My sake. Rejoice and be exceedingly glad, for great is your reward in heaven” (Matt. 5:11-12).

When it comes to love, the important thing we need to know is this: All love starts with God (1 John 4:19). As Moses told the Israelites, God delighted in them to love them (Deut. 10:15), and because of that they were to love others, even strangers (v.19). God’s intent is that the people who receive His love will become the conduit of His love to others.

Apart from God—who Himself is love—none of us could truly love or be loved (1 John 4:7-8). —Julie Ackerman Link

“Love seeketh not her own,” and so

He did not stay as God above,

But chose a manger and a cross

To show that He was Love. —Wilmshurst

He who does not love does not know God, for God is love. —1 John 4:8

Bible in a year: Jeremiah 24-26; Titus 2

Ravi Zacharias Ministry – Mere Christianity

Ravi Z

“I can’t believe how many children there are here,” I leaned and whispered to my husband. We were visitors at a church whose smallest members were helping with the service that morning. A young girl, no more than 8, stood at the front of the altar beside the minister. As she began to speak, her voice echoed the eagerness that her countenance gave away. “Join me in saying the Apostles’ Creed,” she said with a tone that caused me to heed the invitation differently:

I believe God made the world, the sky, the stars, the animals, and all the people in the world. I believe that God’s Son, Jesus, came into the world from heaven. That’s what we remember on Christmas.

Thus began the Apostles’ Creed reworded for children, and in these almost familiar lines were the tenents of the Christian faith, the reminder of all that Christians remember from Christmas to Easter. The little girl’s voice rose above the sounds of a congregation speaking in unison. She was clearly excited by the assignment she had been given. She seemed equally excited by the words of the Creed, the statements of belief shared with the very adults she was leading. It was a creed led in such a way as to remind everyone present that the call of Christ is one a child can answer. The substance to Christian hope is a simple, though profound, reality.

The word creed comes from the Latin word credo, meaning, “I believe.” When asked by Jesus, “Who do you say that I am?” Peter’s response was his creed: “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.”(1) The earliest creeds were used as baptismal vows, affirmations of belief in God the Father, Jesus the Son, and the Holy Spirit. For persons standing on the precipice of faith, the creed was the statement with which they prepared themselves to jump, and in so doing, found they had been given something on which to stand. As Martin Luther noted of the Apostles’ Creed, the most common of ancient confessions, “Christian truth could not possibly be put into a shorter and clearer statement.”

In dire contrast to this ancient attempt to develop concise affirmations of Christian belief is the call among us for a simplified faith that lessens the significance of Jesus’s birth, life, and death, while focusing more on the responsibility his life imparts. Whether or not he was really born or buried, whether he was fully human and fully divine is thought nonessential; the obligation to respond, the need to build relationships, the call to follow, is considered more important. The creeds say so much more than this. Christmas and Easter say so much more than goodwill and forgiveness.

In the letter to the Hebrews, the affirmation is given that faith gives substance to our hopes and makes certain the realities we do not see. Those who first said “credo” did so with the assurance that their lives were dramatically about to change. They were saying in these vows that their beliefs were worth the chance of persecution, suffering, and even death. In their confession of faith was the conviction that what is true is of greater substance than fear or self. They went to their baptisms knowing that the birth, life, and death of Christ was the hope on which they must live and die and believe.

The lines of the Apostles’ Creed, the mere Christianity that men, women, and children continue to stand on, repeat this stirring hope and sounding joy:

I believe in God the Father, Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth. And in Jesus Christ, his only begotten Son, our Lord, who was conceived by the Holy Spirit, born of the Virgin Mary, suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, dead, and buried; he descended into hell, and on the third day he rose again from the dead; he ascended into heaven, and now sits at the right hand of God the Father Almighty.

This is no mere Christianity. This is the story we welcome into a manger and receive from the tomb. This is what we remember on Christmas and every day after.

Jill Carattini is managing editor of A Slice of Infinity at Ravi Zacharias International Ministries in Atlanta, Georgia.

(1) See Matthew 16:15-16.

 

John MacArthur – Christian faith produces righteous deeds.

John MacArthur

“Faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen. For by it the men of old gained approval” (Heb. 11:1-2).

Hebrews 11 has been called “The Heroes of Faith,” “The Faith Chapter,” “The Saints’ Hall of Fame,” “The Honor Roll of the Old Testament Saints,” and “The Westminster Abbey of Scripture.” Those are appropriate titles because this chapter highlights the virtues of faith as demonstrated in the lives of great Old Testament saints. It also reminds us that without faith, it is impossible to please God.

Such a reminder was necessary for the first-century Hebrew people because Judaism had abandoned true faith in God for a legalistic system of works righteousness. Its message is valid today since our devotion to Christ can easily degenerate into a religion of rules and regulations.

While affirming the primacy of faith, the writer of Hebrews doesn’t undermine the importance of righteous works. Quite the contrary. He exhorts us “to stimulate one another to love and good deeds” (10:24) and to pursue holiness so others will see Christ in us and be drawn to Him (12:14).

Yet righteous works are the by-product of true salvation, not its means. As the apostle Paul wrote, “We are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them” (Eph. 2:10). Apart from faith, all attempts to please God through good works alone are as useless and offensive to Him as filthy rags (Isa. 64:6). That’s why Paul gladly set all his Jewish legalistic practices aside, counting them as rubbish. He wanted only “the righteousness that comes from God on the basis of faith” (Phil. 3:9).

This month we’ll study the heroes of faith listed in Hebrews 11. As we do, remember they weren’t perfect people. But their faith was exemplary and by it they gained God’s approval. I pray that’s true of you as well.

Suggestions for Prayer:

Thank God for the gift of faith.

Undoubtedly you know people who are trying to please God by their own efforts. Pray for them and take every opportunity to tell them of true salvation through faith in Christ

For Further Study:

Select one of the individuals mentioned in Hebrews 11 and read the Old Testament account of his or her life.